My laptop has a dead hard drive, I can't find any of the software I had on it, and until it's back from the shop (where it has been since Sunday) I'm on my kids' computer. Oh well, time to whistle with some of the Monty Pythons! Everybody sing! (NSFW for a bit of off-color language).
Open thread below...
This is the Rachel Maddow clip I was looking for from last night by the way - I call this case closed (I can do without this guy's narration in the beginning, and the head shots and the un-synched audio, and it craps out with about a minute to go, but it is his clip, I realize...I also don't know where he got those figures about congressional salaries; maybe he's right for some members, but I have a feeling Patrick Murphy, for example, while doing OK as he should have, wasn't pulling in three quarters of a mil...I hope all you dunces who voted Republican last November are happy now)...
...and every time I think that Sarah Palin can't possibly plummet to new depths of stupidity, she manages to do it as she did here...uh, Aguilera was born in New York and she grew up in PA - where does Palin want to deport her to? Croydon?
Try watching this video after losing a loved one and tell me how much it matters that she screwed up the national anthem.
Life is short, people, and you-know-what happens.
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As we take note of what would be Ronald Reagan's one hundredth birthday it remains a mystery why he is revered by so many Americans and held up as an icon by the Republican Party. Everyone in the GOP takes a crack at explaining why he is a splendid example of everything a leader should be and a patriot par excellence.
Sarah Palin took to the hustings proving once again how confused she is about history and anything requiring more than a moment's thought. She claims Reagan would be proud of today's conservative movement. Others credit him with ending the Cold War and promoting democratic principles around the world. He is congratulated in absentia with having cut taxes, strengthened national security and framed the argument for smaller government. He remains the chosen exemplar of a national ethos that claims to support human rights and individual freedoms although his policies and associates were most assuredly not on the side of the angels.
In the area of civil rights alone he trampled on basic values by using the "Southern Strategy" to promote his political fortunes. He kicked off his 1980 presidential campaign in Neshoba County where Cheney, Schwerner and Goodman had been lynched some years before as they worked to establish voting rights for black southerners - a despicable exercise in gutter politics. Asserting "I believe in states' rights before a "white, and at times, raucous crowd of perhaps 10,000" (Bob Herbert, the NY Times, 11/2007) Reagan shamelessly made the case for bigotry and exclusion in his pursuit of the White House. Everyone got the message, especially in the South, and as President he consistently vetoed programs that sought to level the playing field for minorities.
His achievements were diminished by failures for which he was never required to answer. But nothing was able to tarnish the "Teflon president." His sunny disposition seemed to provide him with cover for a series of truly outrageous blunders and deceptions. The trickle-down theory he advocated has long since been discredited, and he allowed "the largest peacetime tax increase in American history" ("A Taxing Experience," National Review online, 10/29/03). "So while Reagan's legacy is of a tax-cutting policy that pays for itself and provides for growth, the Reagan fact is that tax cut was in large part reversed by necessary tax increases - both in corporate and individual income taxes, which together with significant government spending laid the foundation for ... growth through the next decade, the establishment of the Reagan myth about supply-side and tax cuts and the ...failure to adequately address the long-term deficit ...also laid the foundation for our fiscal mess today" (A Taxing Matter.blogs.com 7/2008).
And his foreign policy was a disaster in many respects. His supporters dwell on the "Mr. Gorbachev tear down that wall" exhortation as a singular accomplishment, but his response to the crisis in Lebanon in the eighties left 241 Marines dead after which he pulled the rest of the U.S. peacekeeping force out leaving him to deal with neo-con accusations that he had "cut and run." At least he didn't commit American forces to civil conflict in the Middle East, choosing instead to tackle the lower-hanging fruit in Grenada.
But perhaps his worst moment was his part in the Nicaraguan mess. He began his presidency taking advantage of the hostage situation in Iran. In any case what came to be called the "Iran-Contra" affair was a muddle of deceptions and intrigue - a stain on American diplomacy that has yet to be cleansed, involving the sale of arms to Iran and interference in the civil affairs of Nicaragua. The official report in 1987 described Reagan as "confused and uninformed" and unable or disinclined to control his subordinates in Congress. It was never determined what Reagan actually knew about the machinations of administration players but the report said he had clearly failed to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Among those deeply involved, John Poindexter, Ollie North and others were indicted for their part in the mysterious goings on. Elliott Abrams was an un-indicted advisor. An unfortunate aspect of Reagan's legacy is that the disgraced Ollie North appears as a military analyst for Fox and that Abrams serves on the Council of Foreign Relations.
How is it that a man of such monumental failures is celebrated on the right as something of a political saint? Republicans and many others refuse to replace the myth with facts, and we are in danger of repeating many of the same deceptive practices in the conduct of our political life today.
Orrin Hatch gets buffeted in the merciless winds of Tea Party politics. Was he invited to tonight's Tea Party townhall in DC, as he claims? Or did he show up uninvited, as the President of the Tea Party Express claims? Our reporter on the scene tries[...]
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When last we visited the Alaskan All-stars, aka the the Superstar Snowbunnies, the Thrillas from Wasilla, Sarah was shootin' elks on her reee-aliteee teevee show and Li'l Bristol had jest 'bout won the dancin' show.Well now it's almost Valentine's Day[...]
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This is what happens when genius meets genius.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
"I bought the drugs to enhance masturbation. Because what crystal meth does - Mike [Jones] taught me this - crystal meth makes it so you don't ejaculate soon. So you can watch porn and masturbate for a long time." - Ted Haggard to GQ's Kevin Roose
Four years ago, after Pastor Ted Haggard, then one of the most important and influential leaders of the Religious Right, was discovered to have bought crystal meth and to have had a series of sexual encounters with a gay prostitute, he was banished from his church and his hometown. It was a national scandal that recalled the dalliances of televangelists Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker. Many felt that if you were to look up the word hypocrisy in the dictionary, you would have found Haggard's picture. On his way out the door, Haggard signed a lucrative settlement, getting paid handsomely to go off into the wilderness.
He was supposed to retreat into exile in the Arizona desert, get counseling and stay away for a good period of time. Instead he returned home to Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was given about a $200,000 severance package and was supposed to have nothing to do with his former church - the 10,000 to 14,000-member New Life Church where he pastored for more than 20 years - or its parishioners, but now that he's home, he keeps running into them at various places around town. He was supposed to stay away from the media, but instead he and his wife Gayle appeared in an HBO documentary, on Oprah and Larry King, and took advantage of dozens of other media opportunities. He wasn't supposed to start up his own church, but now he's got St. James church, which he founded last summer in his living room, and is now holding forth in a middle school cafeteria. And he no doubt has plans for something bigger.
No one could have predicted that insurance companies would find ways around the Affordable Care Act when it came down to actually having to provide coverage to sick people.
As arguments about the constitutionality of healthcare reform reverberate through courtrooms in Florida and across the nation, two provisions that have already kicked in are sparking opposite reactions from insurers.
The requirement that children under 19 be granted insurance regardless of preexisting conditions has caused Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida and many other insurers to stop offering child-only coverage.
Insurers fear they will lose money because parents might sign up for coverage only when their children become sick. That is scheduled to change in 2014, when the law requires that virtually everyone have health insurance — a provision that a federal judge in Pensacola declared unconstitutional on Jan. 31.
But the provision requiring many employers to insure adult children up to age 26 through their parents’ plans has glided into practice with virtually no opposition because healthcare consultants, insurance companies and major employers believe cost increases will be minimal and benefits widespread.
Why the difference? Because they get the extra premiums for insuring adult children and have less of risk of having to pay out to cover illnesses. The policies that insurers are dropping are the plans otherwise uninsured families could purchase just to cover a child--children already covered by family plans are not being dropped.
So one of the most laudable and important elements of the Affordable Care Act--making sure sick kids have health care that their parents can afford, is being undermined. The insurers have a point in that, until 2014 when the mandate kicks in, parents can wait until their kid gets sick to get coverage for them. But that's not really the fault of deadbeat parents--it's the fault of too expensive insurance premiums for many families to afford. It's frankly a problem that should have been foreseen both by lawmakers and by regulators, and should inform policy-makers as they move forward with implementation of the ACA. Insurers are going to exploit every single loophole they can find to avoid covering sick people.
Of course, a public option or Medicare buy-in could take care of everyone with a pre-existing condition, and likely more affordably for their families. And it would be constitutional. And expanding publicly available coverage options might just provide enough competition to private insurers to make them more compliant with the law.
Steven D has more in this diary.
Addendum to this morning's rant.
The Virginia Senate has voted unanimously that coal-bed methane - created by the decomposition of organisms over the course of more than 300 million years - is now to be considered "renewable" energy.
Up next - a unanimous vote to consider bloodlettings as valid health care?
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